Hank Aaron has held baseball’s home run record for 33 years. The man who bought his final home run ball is wondering what might happen to the value of his prized possession when Barry Bonds hits #756.
From Ron Kroichick of SFGate.com:
Andy Knuth describes himself as an "average" baseball fan. He grew up rooting for the Cardinals, and one enduring childhood memory is his favorite team surrendering home runs to Hank Aaron.
Knuth, the owner of an investment management firm in Connecticut, now has a vested interest in protecting Aaron’s all-time record — he bought home-run ball No. 755 at an auction in 1999, at a price "in the neighborhood" of $650,000.
Even so, Knuth does not find himself passionately rooting against Barry Bonds, who begins the season only 22 homers from passing Aaron.
"It won’t even faze me, because in my mind Bonds is going to do it," Knuth said last week in a telephone interview. "What would really surprise me is if something happened, legally or injury-wise, and he didn’t break the record.
"I don’t think there’s any doubt the value of the ball would decrease if Bonds breaks the record. But whether it’s going to be worth less than I paid, I don’t know. … There probably will be two classes of record balls, the pre-steroid ball and the post-steroid ball."
Aaron hit his final home run on July 20, 1976 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium — with little fanfare, because nobody knew it would be the last of his career. Richard Arndt, a Brewers groundskeeper, recovered the ball. According to a story last year in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers fired Arndt because he refused to give the ball to Aaron.
Arndt eventually moved to New Mexico, slipped into an autograph show years later and got an unsuspecting Aaron to sign the ball. Knuth confirmed that Aaron’s autograph appears on the ball.
Knuth became interested in the souvenir mostly because he had an employee whose wife was Aaron’s longtime secretary. That prompted Knuth to attend the auction in ’99, where he showed no interest in Mark McGwire’s 70th home-run ball from the previous summer — which went for a stunning $3.1 million — and instead secured the Aaron ball.
"The escalation of the McGwire ball was so ridiculous," Knuth said, "it seemed to me there was a better chance someone would break McGwire’s record than Aaron’s record."
Bonds, of course, broke McGwire’s single-season record in 2001. And now he takes aim at Aaron’s hallowed record, though Knuth insisted he will not sell his ball no matter what Bonds does.
"That ball will be in my family for a long time," Knuth said.